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Inspirational Multimodal Concept Mapping

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1 Inspirational Multimodal Concept Mapping
By teachers, for teachers Dr. John Cuthell, Research and Implementation Director, MirandaNet Academy


3 Visual learning - some definitions
Concept maps, mind maps, tree diagrams, organisation charts and spider diagrams - help students of all ages think & learn more effectively; used for storing, processing, organising and presenting information graphically; can be used across the curriculum and through all phases of education; most popular elements of Visual Learning -Concept Mapping and Mind Mapping.

4 Concept maps: a Typology
Levels of Generality (Tree structure) Hierarchy of Ideas (Novak & Godwin, 1984) Sequence of teaching tasks moves from focus question, to brainstorm - related concepts placed in a ‘parking lot’ until required by map-makers. Mind Maps Radiating from a central node; main aim to promote recall of memory or facts.

5 Tree structure - levels of generality

6 Concept maps - Novak-style

7 Concept Mapping technique
illustrates relationships between information graphically; concepts linked by words that describe their relationship; encourages understanding by helping students to organise, enhance and learn new information by integrating each new idea into their existing body of knowledge; concept maps are ideal for measuring the growth of student learning; students create concept maps and reiterate ideas using their own words ; misdirected links or wrong connections provide an accurate, objective way to evaluate particular areas requiring additional explanation to complete students’ understanding.

8 Figure Three: A Buzan style mind map

9 Mind Mapping First coined by Tony Buzan in 1974:
mind map is a visual representation of hierarchical information; students follow a process of building a mind map, to represent an entire concept or an idea with branches of associated thoughts; mind maps provide a simplified overview of complex information allowing students to better understand relationships and to find new connections.

10 Mind maps: a central idea or image surrounded by branches of associated topics or ideas.
Subtopics are then added to the branches as ideas flow freely; typically in a mind map, topic and subtopic text is one to two keywords, to provide a reminder for what the idea is; more information is then detailed in attached notes.

11 Mind mapping: a tool for brainstorming and note taking.
process of building a mind map is very fluid and nonlinear, making the expansion of ideas similar to the natural way of thinking. Symbols and images, along with keywords, used to quickly retain and recall information. Branches often in different colours to help students to remember the different branches and their associations.

12 A child’s multimodal map in ‘radiant style’

13 Radiant style with sub-branches

14 The MirandaNet Project

15 Maps for teaching and learning
18-month project by MirandaNet Fellowship ; explored ways in which multimodal mapping and ICT could enhance teaching and learning. Visual thinking and learning tools support visual learning. Findings from all of the projects indicate that the use of such tools has a significant impact: on the learning environment, on pupil perceptions of learning, on attainment.

16 Visual Learning and mapping
Whatever our underlying preconception - that the mind is organised into left and right-hand sides, or is a less organised structure of various skills, mapping utilises a greater part of the brain, resulting in more effective thinking. Imagination and association keys to high-level memory and creative thinking: mapping supports this. Many students who are visual or kinaesthetic learners: this approach makes the teaching more enjoyable and effective and the learning more successful and fun. With Concept Mapping, it is an educational win-win that multiplies its benefits over time and with use. Concept Maps and Mind Maps are quick to review, and ideal for revision. Remembering the shape and structure of a visual diagram can provide cues necessary to remember the information within it. They engage much more of the brain in the process of assimilation and connecting facts than conventional notes or summaries.

17 ICT can act as a catalyst for change in teaching and learning
Technology takes the student from a 2D paper based map into a multi-layered environment. With ICT Visual Learning tools graphics and symbols can be used to highlight the nodes; labels that can be attached to the links; maps can easily be re-organised in a variety of ways to make the picture clear; maps can be hyperlinked to other maps creating a complex multi-layered system for understanding an idea; elements within the map can be “hyperlinked” to files, websites and other digital resources.

18 ICT can act as a catalyst for change in teaching and learning
Multimedia files, such as MP3 and Movie files, could be inserted and played directly from the document and cross curricular templates and resources provide a quick start for teachers and students. ICT also helps to support the development of higher order thinking skills.

19 MirandaNet Mapping and Visual Learning Project
A number of MirandaNet fellows came together to research the ways in which younger children learn to use both language and images to make meaning of the world, and the ways in which they source and choose the images to represent their ideas. Multimedia functionality now enables students to insert and play video and sound directly from their maps to enrich projects. Inspiration Software Inc. provided Inspiration and Kidspiration software for participants to use and donated resources to the schools involved.

20 The affordances of Inspiration
Elements of the Inspiration functionality were found to support students in building diagrams, concept or mind maps and then enable them to transfer their work into text outlines. This meant that students who struggle to write down their thoughts in a linear fashion can pour all their ideas onto the page, reorganise them, link them up and, by transferring to the outline view, have the satisfaction of seeing their ideas made into a structured story or argument. Teachers have commented on how this can raise the self esteem of students who struggle with writing, especially with boys who are initially engaged by working with ICT, but who come out of the process having gained valuable thinking and learning skills. The program Inspiration contains a Word Guide, a dictionary and a thesaurus, which also aid writing and literacy by providing students with more scope for expression.

21 The affordances of Inspiration
These ICT tools can also enhance the experience for auditory learners. Inspiration (and Kidspiration for younger pupils) both have audio tools. These enable auditory learners both to hear their spoken words at the same time as seeing their visual ideas. The Listen tool reads aloud any text a student inputs; the Record tool allows emerging writers to record their own words. They can hear them spoken aloud. Last but not least, the talking interface will read aloud all program elements to the students. If a student scrolls over an item anywhere in the program, the voice will say it aloud, providing an additional element of learning support.

22 The affordances of Inspiration
Ultimately, ICT allows you to expand your ideas by visualising connections and concepts, in a way that you cannot on paper. With paper based mapping you can run out of space or find it is frustrating to add ideas or move them around. The functionality of ICT means that the area for expression is expanded so that space issues do not get in the way of the thought process. The choice between concept mapping and mind mapping is one of personal preference. What is clear is that ultimately teachers seem to agree that both are powerful thinking skills that can offer benefits to all students. What is also clear is that using ICT to undertake this process has the potential to extend the flexibility and scope of this approach even further.

23 The range of projects From 2005 to 2007 eighteen MirandaNet Fellows worked on projects related to Multimodal Mapping and Visual Learning. Some of these used Kidspiration, looking at the development or oracy and literacy in Mexico, the ways in which mapping could raise group achievement, and the ways in which it supported collaborative learning through talk with pupils under 11 years of age. Other projects used Inspiration for older learners and adult learners in conjunction with PDAs, with effective learning dialogues and with supporting teacher education.

24 Teachers using Kidspiration

25 Oracy, Literacy, Conceptual Maps and ICT as Mediators of the Social Construction of Knowledge Among Peers Rojas-Drummond, S.; Tapia, A. A. (2006) In their paper, Oracy, Literacy, Conceptual Maps and ICT as Mediators of the Social Construction of Knowledge Among Peers, Rojas-Drummond and Tapia provide an account of how primary school children in Mexico collaborated over time to develop a team project which involved the co-construction of knowledge. In particular, children worked on a writing project using diverse cultural artefacts, including oracy (talking and listening), literacy (reading and writing), Kidspiration® conceptual maps and ICT. The project involved researching, writing, illustrating and eventually delivering a multimodal conference on a topic of their interest.

26 From black boxes to glass boxes: the application of computerised concept mapping in schools
Bevan, R. (2006) Two secondary schools during over 200 participants. This project investigated to what extent the effectiveness of computerised concept mapping is enhanced by (a) peer collaboration, and (b) providing scoring feedback. Randomised control trials involved three experimental groups, and a control group. In group one, the students used the knowledge-mapper individually. In groups two and three, the students worked collaboratively; only in group three was scoring feedback provided. The students' learning was measured and compared with an essay task.

27 Findings The group one classes who used the software individually showed almost no gain, relative to the class who had no access to the software at all. In contrast groups two and three, who were allowed to collaborate in creating their computerised concept maps, both outperformed the other mapping groups by a significant margin: - whether or not they received the automated scores.

28 Findings The knowledge-mapper had minimal effect on individual scores.
It was effective in promoting constructive collaboration between students, which - in turn - enhanced their performance on the essay task. This finding does not appear to be dependent on the choice of software. It would equally apply with other comparable computerised concept mapping tools: Inspiration, Mind Matrix, and Smart Ideas. Further research may show different results with Kidspiration, specifically designed for young learners.

29 Collaboration, ICT and Mind mapping
Ralston, J.L. and Cook, D (2006) focus on an example of collaborative activity in Primary schools Aims to explore the ways that visual material helps children establish shared meanings. Study took place over six weeks in two English Primary schools with twelve 11 and 12 year olds. Both schools introduced Kidspiration to help students plan a party. They first used paper and pencil maps then used Kidspiration to create concept maps. Each class also used Kidspiration to explore a Key Stage 2 History topic: 16th Century Explorers or similarities and differences between two towns.

30 Findings One aspect observed in this study was the quality of the discussion among the students. When talk is 'exploratory' in nature it supports thinking and learning in a hierarchical manner. The things you might find could include actions such as recording, reporting, generalizing, speculating hypothesising and theorising. The conclusion was that the use of multimodal-mapping software, such as Kidspiration, proved to be successful in supporting the students' exploration and presentation of ideas, as the language generated showed. The use of ICT provided a screen focus enabling pupils to organise their thoughts, make use of colour and imagery to present information clearly and attractively and facilitate discussion. The analysis of the maps showed that the students were working with a clear organising principle in mind.

31 Introducing ICT-based Multimodal Mapping
Riley, N. (2006) Riley examined the eight functions of multimodal mapping, and the ways in which they can be integrated within the Primary curriculum. The first is to direct thinking: as a teaching presentation tool, to organise topic coverage and group activities. The second is to stimulate discussion and dialogical learning: to promote speaking and listening skills. Multimodal mapping can also be used to generate creativity: to identify ‘conceptual spaces’ and stimulate ‘possibility‘ thinking, and to facilitate higher order thinking: to generate thinking skills through finding relationships and identifying gaps in understanding.

32 Multimodal maps can generate writing by scaffolding ideas.
Ideas can be represented through strong visual images and can contain pictures and graphics, and promote collaborative learning. Mapping can be used to generate group work in discussion activities or map production activities. As an assessment tool, mapping can provide evidence for formative assessment in assessment for learning activities and as a learning self-evaluation tool in personalised learning. For publication and display, visual and text representations provide a stimulating form of presentation.

33 Teachers using Inspiration

34 Vision Mapping in Practice
Vision Mapping in Practice. Using Inspiration to support learners and teachers Finch, J. (2006) The Worcestershire Vision Mapping project focused on the Forest of Feckenham and aimed to involve and encourage the community to shape the future of its biodiversity heritage. The project encouraged appreciation and awareness of the importance of biodiversity to quality of life to as many sectors of the community as possible, and encouraged participation in developing a 'biodiversity vision' for their area. Communities were encouraged to explore both past and present, for example, surveying the area and collecting reminiscences of older residents, together with aspirations for the future, aiming to identify what matters most to the community regarding their local wildlife. This hoped to generate a sense of stewardship and responsibility for its future welfare, exploring new and innovative ways to engage community interest, and so develop a template to use in the future throughout the county. The school based aspects of the project used Inspiration to support both teachers and learners to develop the creative responses local children have between people and place on a variety of levels, but with a specific focus on local biodiversity.

35 Mobile Mapping

36 Inspiration(al) use of concept mapping on PDAs
Inspiration(al) use of concept mapping on PDAs. A study of the impact of the introduction of PDAs, Inspiration 8 to a primary classroom Finch, J. (2006) This study involved the introduction of 10 PDAs to a first school (YR to Y4, pupils aged 5 to 9 years). The pilot focused on the use of PDAs to support aspects of writing with all children, but with a particular interest in the impact on a group of reluctant writers causing concern in Y4 (aged 9 years). Integrated two other dimensions i.e. that of flexible, personalised learning and multi-modal mapping. The teachers involved had no experience of using PDAs or multi-modal mapping in a classroom context so they were learning these technologies and techniques with the students. When using multi-modal mapping tools to scaffold the writing process the web-like structure legitimated learners to start writing wherever they preferred. links guided them along a particular path, but these were changed, added to and deleted as the writer progressed. The learner remained in control of their writing environment.

37 Outcomes The impact of this process on one child in the group was clear. When he moved from the Inspiration Diagram View to the Outline View he exclaimed "Did I write all that?" Transferring the work onto a word processor provided further encouragement when he discovered that he only had to add connectives and punctuation to create a piece of prose ... "So I just add 'ands' and full stops and I've done it?" There were a number of other significant interactions which demonstrated ways in which the children were highly motivated by the resources and were supported to develop their thinking beyond prior performance with paper and pencil. Over the whole class teachers noted a significant improvement in output, quality of writing, motivation and engagement. The school was so convinced of the efficacy of the investment that they purchased a further 20 PDAs in the following term.

38 Investigating the impact of ICT-based multimodal mapping in developing effective learning dialogues
Riley, N. (2006) Assessment of children's writing shows a deficiency in developing coherent ideas. More often than not, student writing follows the prompts of the teacher and shows little individual extension outward. The author investigated an intermediary tool between talk and writing to provide structure for thought, revision, refinement and presentation. The study explores the use of Inspiration® and other ICT tools and their use in the area of writing.

39 In writing, composition involves retrieval and evaluation of information, the evolving and synthesis of ideas and drafting, which promotes writing as 'revising inner speech' (Moffett, 1981). Concept mapping provides a means by which such compositional ideas are made explicit. It is recognised that ICT can produce discussion of a type that has educational significance when children work in small groups at computers (Fisher, 1997:81; Wegerif, Littleton and Jones, 2005). Inspiration, an ICT-based multimodal mapping software, was used to stimulate and develop learning dialogues that enhance thinking and ideation that transfers into compositional expository writing.

40 Data collection The sample is a group of 22 students aged years old within a large urban primary school in the United Kingdom (UK). The students have a wide range of academic attainment and social backgrounds. The intention was to use Inspiration -based concept mapping as normal routine in whole class teaching and in group work, where the class is familiar with using laptops individually and in small groups. Concept maps consist of "concepts" linked together by descriptive words or links which show relationship. The more descriptive the link, the better students can understand the concept.

41 Findings Data collected from transcribed discussions of groups while concept mapping. Student maps were analysed for complexity based on the number of nodes and links. The pre-test and post-test scores were compared, wherein students used concept mapping in the post test. The number of propositions and concepts in writing and in the discussion increased post-test. When comparing the examples of writing by the same groups it is noted how the pattern of mapping has increased in concepts formed and links labelled. Further, the ideas are more developed post-test. These findings suggest that Inspiration maps increase the incidence of higher order thinking during the compositional process.

42 Teacher Educators using Inspiration

43 A Survey of Teacher Inclusion of Graphic Organizers in Classroom Instruction
Antonius, E. (2006) This study surveys teacher use of Graphic Organizers in their classrooms. It reviews research on the effectiveness of Graphic Organizers with students. It examines how visual learning techniques are supported by theories like dual coding and multiple intelligences. Experimental research also supports an increase in retention and in test scores when graphic organizers are introduced. Computerized graphic organizers are included and show that they positively affect student scores. A survey was conducted with 62 teachers who are currently studying for a Masters of Education at George Fox University.

44 A Survey of Teacher Inclusion of Graphic Organizers in Classroom Instruction
These teachers responded to a 14-question survey ranging from fill-in-the blank demographic questions to open ended questions on their application of Graphic Organizers. The results found that a majority of teachers did include graphic organizers in their classrooms. Elementary school was the highest level of inclusion. A number of educators responded that they include graphic organizers in their classrooms. Questions for future study might focus on Special Education teachers, student use interactively versus teacher use for presentation, and student assessment when graphic organizers are used.

45 Engaging Learners through Critical Thinking Scaffolds
Coombs, S. (2006) Coombs focuses on personal learning and how it is developed through the use of critical thinking scaffolds. Through his research, Coombs suggests that the basis of the critical thinking scaffold consist of managing, focusing and eliciting reflection as a method of personal learning (Coombs, 2000). Coombs cites the merged theories of ‘systems thinking' and Self-organised-Learning (S‑o-L) (Thomas & Harri-Augstein, 1985) as the philosophical and pedagogical basis for using critical thinking scaffolds to improve personal learning. The S-o-L theory explains human learning as developed through the construction and reconstruction of meaningful reflective experiences. The S-o-L theory includes three phases: brainstorming to capture ideas, focusing key issues to develop ideas and, finally, project control through operational management.

46 Engaging Learners through Critical Thinking Scaffolds
Graphic organisers, like Inspiration® from Inspiration Software®, can be used in all three phases to simplify and digitise the process. The second theory of systems thinking is based on Knowledge Elicitation Systems (KES), which focuses on idea capturing, sorting relationships and displaying a final pattern. Graphic organisers are again suggested for this structure. "Taxonomies and flowcharts clearly provide two different kinds of knowledge. The one represents the world in terms of a hierarchical order. Its main concern is the ranking of phenomena from the perspective of a single unifying turn.... the other describes the world in terms of an actively pursued process with a clear beginning and an end. It has a sequential progression and is goal-orientated... System networks... attempt to combine the two perspectives" Kress and Leeuwen (1996). Inspiration allows for the building of the hierarchical order of taxonomy and the process structure of a flow chart. Templates operate as professional learning tools to help professionals critically engage in work-based projects. They both support and assure quality in the master's level work-based professional development capability of participant professional learners.

47 Other projects from the MirandaNet working group
A number of other projects from the multimodal concept mapping project, are outlined in the e-journal, but are not yet fully reported. Berry investigated the literature on the use of Concept Mapping in schools, and disseminated his findings to the group during the workshops and seminars. This served to inform the work that was in progress. Clark’s work looked at the use of mind mapping to enhance learning in ICT at AS Level, and had two key aims: to establish whether - and if so, how – mind mapping software could usefully contribute to learning and, in particular, whether collaborative linking significantly improved thinking; to identify student desires (what they want the software to do) and ways of achieving greater dynamicity or interactivity in digital mind mapping by combining different types of software.

48 Preston explored the effectiveness of encouraging teachers to express the quality of their learning in a more visual way through mapping. The first objective was to explore the potential of multimodal mapping in evaluating the effectiveness of ICT courses from the perspective of the tutors. The second objective was to compare the quantitative results between teachers taking an ICT skills course and teachers undertaking a year long practice-based research project. The third objective was to refine the quantitative methodology to provide a replicable model for other teacher educators. Findings suggested that the multimodal mapping could a useful tool for encouraging innovative self-assessment and group assessment of the quality of learning through discussion and debate.

49 Thomas examined the tools that can be used to promote this dialogue, and the ways in which concept mapping can be used as part of an “online tool set” for critical thinking development and assessment for learning. He also examined social networking software and its link with possible assessment for learning tools. These open up the wider issue of what non-linear really means, and what collaboration really means. The use of concept maps to support mathematical problem solving was investigated by Piggot, who explored the question of whether concept mapping software can act as a tool to mediate and support learners' independence in "stepping into" mathematical problems.

50 Conclusion The evaluations of and critical reflections on the teaching and learning activities demonstrate the complex interactions between the learners’ experience of the mapping tools, the focus of the tasks, and the practical issues to be addressed. Riley’s study indicates positive developments in the pupils’ higher order thinking skills, changes in the nature of the talk and indications of transfer from talk into writing. While Clark notes the generally positive response of the students, she also acknowledges some of the frustrations of accessibility to resources and skills that arise. These studies did not introduce the mapping activities as ‘one-off’ experiences, but incorporated them into a series of sessions to give learners time for practice, reflection and, ‘gestation’ of ideas. Rojas-Drummond and Tapia refer to the ‘gradual appropriation by the children of the various cultural artefacts’, including the concept mapping tools. Ralston and Cook describe the role of ‘consensual maps’ as a scaffold for the intertwining of talk, thinking and visual representation.

51 But context is all … A key theme in the consideration of the pedagogical issues associated with this work is the development of the teachers’ own professional knowledge. It is not just the mapping tools, which bring about the responses and changes for the learners, but the pedagogical context in which their possibilities are introduced and modelled. The teachers actively engaged with the nature of the teaching and learning problem, the theoretical framework for approaching the activities, the methods for investigation, and the critical reflection on the evidence emerging from the study. Their pedagogy shaped, and was shaped by the teaching and research activity with the mapping tools, providing us with insights into future planning, teaching strategies and themes for reflection.

52 Digital mapping software now offers sophisticated features in multilayered diagrams which encourage learners to express their concepts by creating multimodal artefacts and by refashioning existing artefacts to attach to their maps. Web enabled maps offer an even greater range of possibilities. The implications for the profession in interpreting, storing and assessing these maps are substantial. Dissemination and publishing decisions about learning artifacts are a new dimension of learning which have not been offered to learners until the omnipresence of the internet. It also creates a new situation in which the Internet audience may judge the success of a map by diverse criteria, which bear no relationship to the judgements a teacher might make. Under these new conditions for learning maps appear to offer a tool which might be important in rethinking ways of teaching and learning.

53 Acknowledgements These commentaries, papers and case studies provide a snapshot of a range of different perspectives and different uses of digital concept mapping in the practice of teaching and learning. Thanks are due to the members of the MirandaNet Visual Learning Group, who initiated the project. The project was supported by Inspiration Software, Inc., who develop and publish software tools for learners to brainstorm, organise, plan and create. The UK distributors for Inspiration, TAG Learning Ltd (TAG) also provided support. Inspiration® (Ages 7 to adult) and Kidspiration® (for students age 4-10 years) have been designed specially for the education market, and the latest version of Inspiration includes access to more than one million symbols to help visualise ideas.

54 Source materials Full details of the projects can be found on the MirandaNet site ( at Presentations from project seminars are also available to download. A number of papers from the project have been published in the journal ‘Reflecting Education’ Volume 3 Issue 1, 'Fascinating cultural objects: multimodal concept mapping in teaching and learning', (Ed. Pachler, N., Institute of Education, University of London ISSN

55 Bibliography Antonius, E. (2006) A Survey of Teacher Inclusion of Graphic Organizers in Classroom Instruction. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship. Bevan, R. (2006) From black boxes to glass boxes: the application of computerised concept mapping in schools. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship. Buzan, T. (1974) Use Your Head. BBC Books. London Coombs, S. (2006) Engaging Learners through Critical Thinking Scaffolds. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship. Finch, J. (2006) Inspiration(al) use of concept mapping on PDAs. A study of the impact of the introduction of PDAs, Inspiration 8 to a primary classroom. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship. Finch, J. (2006) Vision Mapping in Practice. Using Inspiration to support learners and teachers. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship. Novak, J. D. (1990). Concept mapping: A useful tool for science education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27(10), Novak, J. D., Canas, A. J. (2006) The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct Them. Technical Report IHMC CmapTools Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). Novak, J.D. & Gowin, D.B., (1984) Learning How to Learn, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Ralston, J.L. and Cook, D (2006) Collaboration, ICT and Mind mapping. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship.

56 Bibliography Riley, N. (2006) Introducing ICT-based Multimodal Mapping. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship. Riley, N. (2006) Investigating the impact of ICT-based multimodal mapping in developing effective learning dialogues. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship. Downloaded from: Rojas-Drummond, S.; Tapia, A. A. (2006) Oracy, Literacy, Conceptual Maps and ICT as Mediators of the Social Construction of Knowledge Among Peers. The MirandaNet Braided Learning e-Journal, MirandaNet Fellowship. Downloaded from:


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